Fascination Metal: From Apprentice to Head of Technology
Dr. Wieland H. Klein is a mechanical engineer and CTO at Heinrich Georg GmbH. He grew up in the region of "Siegerland" and already completed his training at GEORG. In the interview, he talks about his fascination with "technology" and his career path.
Can you briefly describe your professional career?
Dr. Klein: I had my first contact with metal and its processing at the age of three in my father's workshop. From that point on, I knew what fascinated me. Even at elementary school age, I was able to turn and mill as well as work with many manual machine tools. Sheet metal and welding work also excited me. First toys and sleds were built, followed by simple machines for garden use (shredders).
In my youth, I then made my first complex parts for my moped and motorcycle transmission. That was insanely interesting and very practical. Coupled with the theoretical knowledge gained through school in the natural science subjects, especially physics, computer science and chemistry, completely new possibilities arose. I spent practically every free minute after school experimenting, building and learning how to handle and behave with metal on machines. Parallel to my A-levels, I did a lot of programming and soldered my first electronic circuit boards.
After school, my path led me to the Heinrich Georg company in Kreuztal. There I completed an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer. I enjoyed the training very much. In particular, my instructor at the time, Mr. Stein, taught me how to work precisely. I am still grateful to him for that today. The contact with large machines and plants, the main products of GEORG, also brought me a big step forward. First assemblies at customers were completed. That was very interesting, of course. A completely different world.
After my apprenticeship, I went to RWTH Aachen University and studied mechanical engineering. At the university, I also worked in various institutes from the first semester on in order to learn the practical relevance and to directly implement the theory. My path led me to the WZL (Machine Tool Laboratory of RWTH Aachen University), one of the largest and most important institutes in mechanical engineering worldwide. There, I worked in the field of condition monitoring on machine components.
After two years, I took over as head of the "Machine Elements" working group and developed and supervised many high-performance test benches. After three years, I became chief engineer of the WZL under Prof. Christian Brecher. There I was responsible for the entire field of machine technology. I was able to gain valuable knowledge at many machine tool manufacturers as well as major industrial companies worldwide and at the same time acquire many contacts to national and international scientists and institutes. These contacts still exist today and open up a wide range of opportunities for me in my current profession.
After my doctorate, I consciously went back to the Siegerland to the company Heinrich GEORG company in 2011. Everything is just right here. The products are exciting, technology is alive and you have the opportunity to actively shape innovations for the benefit of customers worldwide. At GEORG, I initially started as a design manager. After three years, I took over the machine tool division and today I am responsible for the technology and production of the GEORG Group in the management.
In your view, what makes your employer stand out?
Dr. Klein: GEORG is an high-tech company that promotes and challenges its employees. The global field of activity is fascinating and subject to constant change. Together with a team of proven experts from various disciplines, I can actively help shape our path from classic mechanical engineer to intelligent process optimizer, and I like the direct proximity to colleagues from almost all areas. I particularly enjoy working at the interface between pure mechanical engineering and digitization, but the challenges posed by climate change with regard to the development of environmentally friendly, energy-efficient products and processes are also very exciting. The trappings are also right; I think our numerous awards as the best employer in mechanical engineering speak for themselves.
What do you appreciate about living & working in South Westphalia?
Dr. Klein: South Westphalia is a region full of life with down-to-earth people. The region has been associated with technology for centuries, it is the cradle of mechanical engineering, where a high level of expertise is gathered, this characterizes the people of the Siegerland. The symbiosis of work and leisure is an excellent fit, offering my young family a wide range of opportunities. And the major centers of Cologne and Frankfurt are easy to reach.
Which advice would you give to young people who are having difficulty finding their career path?
Dr. Klein: My advice is to get solid training in a skilled trade at a good company that attaches importance to its training. There are many opportunities for this in the Siegerland and Sauerland regions. You can build on this basis like a stable foundation for a house.
Is there anything else on your mind?
Dr. Klein: I would like to motivate young people to get involved with technology at an early age, to learn in a playful way and thus to create a basis for their further career. There are great companies in our region, some of which are global leaders like GEORG. In order to secure the future in the long term, we must always be one step ahead of our competitors at home and abroad. And this requires first-class employees in the production facilities as well as outstanding colleagues in innovation and development and in the administrative areas of the companies.
Karsten's cool projects
Employees visiting from China
Again it has been a pleasure to welcome our colleagues Alex Chen and Andy Sun from our GEORG Products Service Center in Beijing!
They will use their 3 months stay to familiarize themselves with the latest improvements and technologies incorporated in state-of-the-art transformer core production lines, which presently undergo final testing and pre-acceptance prior to shipment to China.
For more than 10 years now both of them form part of the GEORG service team located in Beijing. By the way, the GEORG Products Service Center was founded already in 1985 and with the help of our Chinese colleagues more than 100 GEORG machines and production lines could be successfully installed and serviced in China and neighbouring countries so far.
Digital education with GEORG
We want to anchor lifelong and digital learning just as much as traditional values. That is why we support our employees with various online training courses and offer instruction on our digital portal.
In particular, we support the development of our managers and employees with specialist software solutions, digital formats, and an extensive training catalog, right from the start of training.
Again GEORG has been ranked among the Top Employers
The media brand Freundin and the employer rating platform kununu again recognized the compatibility of family and career, a good work-life balance, feel-good factors and equal career opportunities among employers.
We are pleased to have achieved 2nd place among Germany's most family-friendly employers in the plant and mechanical engineering sector.
25-year service anniversary
We are happy about the 25-year anniversaries of our three industrial mechanics Mimoun El Hasnaoui, David Karl and Alexander Lang. It is amazing that you have remained loyal to us for so long after your apprenticeship at GEORG and that you will continue to actively support our assembly team.
Recruitment of new apprentices
Once again this year, we are pleased to welcome new, dedicated apprentices to our company.
Gianluca Scaiano, Tom Sinner, Alexander Wieczorek, Sean Luca Fries, Luca Buchen (from left to right), Laurin Schmidt and Max Karais are warmly welcomed to GEORG.
Our new apprentices complete their training at GEORG and in our subsidiary GEORG AUTOMATION in the professions of electronics for industrial engineering, industrial mechanics and machining mechanics.
We are very pleased that you are here and wish you a good start to your professional life.